Friday, March 07, 2008

Barletta Campaign threatens blogger

In what will go down as another boneheaded move the Lou Barletta campaign threatened blog buddy The Pennsylvania Progressive with legal action. You would think that one of the high priced out of town consultants that Mayor Lou has hired would know better than to try to silence criticism and instill some discipline.

Barletta Campaign: "Pull Down Your Blog"

I'm still waiting for the lawsuit Lou Barletta's Congressional campaign threatened me with two weeks ago. Are process servers on strike? Did someone in Hazleton realize how stupid this was? I wrote this article after press reports that Lou Barletta, running in the 11th Congressional District against incumbent Democrat Paul Kanjorski, declared the loan listed on his FEC reports for six years was personal and not a campaign debt...

John Keegan identified himself as "Lou Barletta's Lower Luzerne County Chairman for Lou Barletta For Congress Committee" (sic). This means he was speaking, officially, for the Lou Barletta For Congress Committee. He then quoted some comments I made about blogging in an online interview and said this:

That post demonstrates to me that you are aware of the consequences of posting false, inflammatory, and potentially libelous statements. Before this issue becomes more than it needs to me I cannot impress upon you enough to contact me to get the FACTS. My contact information is below. In the meantime I ask that you pull this blog immediately. I assure you that after you talk to me you will understand my demand. Thanks for taking the time to read this communication.

John D. Keegan R. Ph.

What sort of campaign engages in such behavior? Is this the kind of press/communications outreach Lou Barletta is engaging in? This is utterly irresponsible and reckless conduct and a symptom of acute Castoritis. What on earth possessed them to think they could demand I pull down my blog? This tells me several things: these people are exceptionally thin skinned and they have no discipline on their campaign regarding press contacts and official statements. The idea Lou Barletta can represent the people of the 11th District better than Paul Kanjorski, after reading these emails, is laughable.


PA progressive said...

Gort, you have my permission to republish the article in it entirety.

John Keegan said...


Against my better judgment I am going to answer this person. As usual Pa Progressive did not provide you with the entire communication between us. Even with the post he gave you tell me where I "threatned" anything. Ask him to post my entire communications to him. See what credibility holds up. I even suggested to him that he reword his post to reflect his Opinion since he did not have facts to back up his statement.

Mr. Morgan, contrary to your post on the statement I had an issue with, here is your statement that prompted my email. ".The illegal $65,000 loan which Lou Barletta's campaign has on its books was a personal loan taken to retire his campaign debt from 2002 according tot he Hazleton Mayor."

The issue was over Mr. Morgan stating that a loan taken out by Lou Barletta to cover unfunded expenses from his last campaign was an "illegal loan." In fact it was a very legal loan taken out in the usual fashion at a bank.

As I stated to Mr. Morgan he does not have any proof for that statement. In fact after several email exchanges I proved to Mr. Morgan that there was no illegal loan. He asked for written proof and I sent him to the FEC site where the information is located. I even "held his hand" to point him to the documents.

He has chosen to cherry pick what was written. And again I will ask the question.

What proof does Mr. Morgan possess for him to make the statement "The illegal $65,000.00 loan."? Freedom of speech has its limits. I don't call it thin skinned when one presents false information to the public. He calls himself part of the "press." He should be more responsible in what he presents as "facts." I know many journalists that lost their career over fabricated information.

His reckless statement about Lou Barletta's wife demonstrates the off the wall mentality in this situation. Attack and smear seems to be the order of the day from this man.

PA progressive said...

Mr. Keegan did, indeed threaten me with legal action. He even included the charge in his email. I call that a legal threat. I aske dhim to provide proof to support his claim that Lou Barletta has made payments on this loan personally. In spite of repeated requests for this in the email exchanges Mr. Keegan refused to provide any proof.

He did, however, as an official of the Barletta campaign, reveal this as a loan secured by both Mr. Barletta and his wife secured by their jointly owned home.

That's an FEC violation. Mrs. Barletta was limited to a $1,000 contribution to her husband's campaign. Her half of the security for the loan was $32,500. Oops. Thanks for providing the official campaign evidence of a serious FEC violation Mr. Keegan. I imagine an official FEC complaint is already in the works against Mrs. Barletta.

Mr. Keegan can call this a smear, I call it proof.

Keegan's statement above: "He calls himself part of the "press." He should be more responsible in what he presents as "facts." I know many journalists that lost their career over fabricated information." is extremely reckless. He provided, himself, the facts behind my allegation that Mrs. Barletta violated the law. Check the link in my original story for the precedent. It's already established in the law. This statement is clearly a signal that he wants to come after me, but, again, he will deny it is a threat.

This is what the Lou Barletta campaign is all about folks, they threaten all sorts of people with ordinances, playing on fear and bigotry to advance the Mayor's political ambitions. Be very afraid of demagogues like Lou Barletta. Very afraid. Who will he decide he doesn't like next and try to run our of town? You?

John Keegan said...


On another blog the following was posted about John Morgan. It can't be said better.

... call people names, they put out erroneous facts, or they take cheap shots, but yet they want to cry when they are put to the coals by people who are outraged by their behavior.

Respectable people do not enjoin debate by using personal attacks, they discuss issues with respect and civility towards their opponent.

I would like to set one statement that heads this article. I am a volunteer, not a high priced out of town consultant.

Next, let's address the potentially defamatory, derogatory, and libelous statements placed on the net by John Morgan using my name and my profession.

I never threatened to sue John Morgan, period. He inserted words I never used.

What I said, and obviously the man must speak a different dialect of English than I do, is that "Before this issue becomes more than it needs to be.." Is the word "sue" in any of that statement? A lawsuit is a specific action not contained anywhere in any of my emails.

The same applies to your statement above where you state I threaten blog buddy The Pennsylvania Progressive with legal action. While I state what I believe Mr. Morgan is doing is actionable nowhere do I threaten any legal action. He has engaged in a chop-job campaign and is expending alot of effort just to slam me personally.

There are other ways to deal with Mr. Morgan's irrational behvaior.
Under the terms of service for Typepad/Sixpart, the site that hosts his blog, he must abide by certain rules. The terms can be found here

One term that pertains to this issue:
You agree that you will not:
(a) upload, post, transmit or otherwise make available any Content that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortuous, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive of another's privacy (up to, but not excluding any address, email, phone number, or any other contact information without the written consent of the owner of such information), hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable; As part of their terms of service I have the right to fill out a Content Violation Reporting Form. Is that a lawsuit?

After speaking to a 26 year veteran consultant of federal campaigns it is obvious that John Morgan has not a clue to the applicable federal law and there is no foundation for any claims he makes against Mr. Barletta, his wife, nor myslef relative to loans to the campaign.

He writes that as an official of the Barletta campaign, I revealed that a loan secured by both Mr. Barletta and his wife using their jointly owned home as collateral is an FEC violation. He wrote that I sent emails that contained much damaging information about Lou Barletta. He makes claims about what I said in my emails pertaining to the loan. He makes the claim that Lou Barletta is guilty of the same transgression Murtha did in his campaign. He writes that I got my candidate in some very hot water. He displays math to determine Mrs. Barletta's half of the loan. He then states that Mrs. Barletta exceeded her campaign contribution limit by $31,500.00. He makes alot of claims that are inaccurate and not factual, no excuse me FALSE.

Here is the standard under the federal law pertaining to the loan. A candidate who uses joint property to secure a loan must have an financial interest to cover the amount of the loan to avoid violating the campaign contribution limit of a spouse. In this partiuclar case Lou Barletta needed to be able to show that thee equity in his half of property was worth more than at least $75,000.00 for the FEC not to find a violation. The property that was used a collateral had a substainal value more than needed to cover the $75,000.00 that would pertain to Mr. Barletta half alone. In effect Mrs. Barletta had no contribution as alleged by Mr. Morgan. Yet he states that "This is an FEC violation."

BTW to set the record straight Mr. and Mrs. Barletta took out a line of credit, not a mortgage. But then again Mr. Morgan probably would not know the difference.

I don't know the particulars of the Murtha case. However, after learning what I typed above the remaining equity in the home of the Murthas was probably not enought to allow for the $40,000.00 loan to be attributable to Mr. Murtha alone. In other words there needed to be at least $80,000.00 worth of equity so that Mr. Murtha could claim the $40,000.00 was his alone. It is obvious that the $40,000.00 mortgage Mr. Murtha and his wife took out exceeded the FEC guidelines from the finding in this distinct and separate set of circumstances unrelated to the Barletta matter.

Mr. Morgan started this whole problem with a post he could not substantiate. He writes that I need to provide proof. Who made him judge and jury and why do I need to provide anything to him? He is the one who made the original post, not me. People are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not the court of John Morgan.

What documents does Mr. Morgan have in his possession to substantiate the defamatory claims he makes? What proof does he have? NONE. To date there is no communication from the FEC relative to the claims made by the DCCC or John Morgan on any loans involving the prior Barletta campaign.

Gort, I believed you jumped the gun on me before finding out who I was and what I meant in my posts. As you can see I never threatened any legal action. I did say this matter could become more than it needs to be. And the reason that could happen is due to John Morgan's actions not my responses to his actions.

Journalistic perogative is not limitless. While the spirit of a blog is to write random thoughts, Bloggers do not have carte blanche to write what they want. Free speech can be actionable. The First Amendment does not grant immunity for libel. Mr. Morgan not only makes statements about Lou Barletta, his wife, and myself. He provides "evidence" in the form of a FEC case to prove his statement is true, not just opinion. He even makes the statement "I call it proof." In fact that case, as I stated before, does not bear the same facts as pertains to Mr. Barletta's issue.

While Mr. Morgan can claim that Lou Barletta, as a public official, loses some claims under the First Amendment, I am not a public official. I am not an employee of the Lou Barletta For Congress Committee. And my profession and credentials have nothing to do with a political campaign.

In one of my emails I encouraged John Morgan to change his post to reflect it was his opinion. However, he chose to write his statements as statements of fact. I believe Mr. Morgan is very reckless with his statements to the point there is malice intended upon the recipients of his remarks.

Mr. Morgan, I have never sued anyone. Can you say the same? I think you heard this before. When you are in a hole, stop digging.

John Keegan said...

I would like to add that my emails were private to Mr. Morgan. He chose to place them on the net. I did not post my comments to his original article. I sent it to him by email. He is the one who chose the net as a forum to vent his displeasure. That is further evidence to me that there is malice in his intent to harm me.